Tiger Woods tied for lead after opening 66 in Australia

By Doug FergusonNovember 12, 2009, 6:14 pm
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MELBOURNE, Australia – Tiger Woods putted for birdie on every hole but the last one. He birdied all the par 5s. And the one time he took on one of the short par 4s at Kingston Heath, he came within inches of reaching the green.

It was just the kind of performance a massive crowd at the Australian Masters expected to see.

Despite a bogey on his final hole when he drove into a tea tree, Woods put together a stress-free round of 6-under 66 on Thursday to share the lead after one round with James Nitties and Branden Grace.

“I bogeyed the last hole and missed two short putts for birdie,” Woods said. “Other than that, it was a pretty good day.”

It felt like more than that to the kind of gallery typically seen only at major championships. Tournament officials said 21,356 people came through the turnstiles, with about 5,000 others giving Kingston Heath a buzz it hasn’t felt in years.

“It was like when I first turned pro and (Greg) Norman used to play,” Cameron Percy said after a 67. “It was like a major, basically.”

Nitties, who easily retained his U.S. PGA Tour card in his rookie season, played behind Woods and quietly joined him in the lead with two birdies over his last three holes.

Grace, a 21-year-old from South Africa, made his first tournament round in Melbourne a memorable one by running off four straight birdies at the turn. He had the lead to himself until a bogey on the 17th.

“I’m up there, and hopefully I can keep playing that way for the next three rounds,” he said.

Woods missed only two fairways in a round that was relatively free of trouble until he pulled his tee shot on the ninth hole, had to chip out of the tea tree into thick rough, did well to bounce it on the green and took two putts from 40 feet. He chose to lay back from the bunkers on several of the short holes, although birdie chances didn’t come by the bushel. Woods hit away from the flag when he didn’t have the right angle; other times, he simply hit poor shots.

“I did a lot of lag putting,” he said.

He made his move toward the end of the round, hitting 3-wood to the 294-yard sixth hole that held its line to the left of the bunkers and came up just short of the green, leaving an easy chip to a foot. After a poor tee shot left him a bad angle to the green on the seventh, Woods hit 8-iron over the corner of trees to 20 feet for another birdie, then hit 8-iron to 7 feet on No. 8 to set up his third straight birdie.

Far more impressive than the golf, however, was the gallery.

Traffic was backed up along Kingston Road outside the club for miles in the hour before Woods teed off.

“I know,” he said. “I was stuck in it, too.”

The tournament has been a sellout for months, and it remains peculiar to see a ticket window at an Australian golf tournament with a sign that says “Sold out.” The cap was at 100,000 tickets for the week – not all of them come through the front gate – and while it was impossible for some 25,000 fans to stay on one hole, whoever couldn’t fit in moved ahead to the next couple of holes.

That turned into a treat for the likes of Seve Benson, playing in the group ahead of Woods, feeling like a rock star himself.

“It was amazing,” Benson said after a 70. “After a couple of holes, you get used to it. But then you realize that they were not on the hole before. They had been there for awhile waiting.”

Thousands headed for the exit when Woods finished, although a fair crowd stuck around for the afternoon, even though the action slowed severely. Mathew Goggin, who played in the final group at Turnberry with Tom Watson, had a 69 to match the best score in the afternoon, when bleachers were half-full.

Most of the crowd followed Adam Scott, slowed by a three-putt bogey from 10 feet in his round of 71. Stuart Appleby also had a 69.

Perhaps the toughest spot was playing behind Woods, as marshals allowed the gallery to stop in the middle of crossing areas so that the fans entirely circled every green on which Woods, defending champion Rod Pampling and Craig Parry were putting.

Parry holed a 50-foot putt on the fourth and shot a 70, while Pampling had a 71.

Among those in the gallery was Woods’ mother, Kultida, who usually only travels to Augusta National and Sherwood Country Club for her son’s tournament in December.

Percy and Doug Holloway were at 67, while Greg Chalmers was in the group at 68.

Geoff Ogilvy, the only other player besides Woods in the top 50 at Kingston Heath, took double bogey on his final hole for a 72.

Nitties already was fired up about coming home to Australia, especially after a successful rookie campaign in which he tied for fourth in the FBR Open to get his year started right. Then came a week of practice, with the Heath buzzing over Woods.

“Tiger’s here, so it’s huge,” he said. “I love it. You want to do well in front of your local crowd.”

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.